Author Archives: hcsmith

Cycles in Exhibition Design

Frederick Kiesler "Art of This Century" Exhibition 1942

In 1942 when Fredrick Kiesler designed Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery “Art of this Century” he incorporated armatures into his design that literally presented the artwork to the viewer by removing the art from the wall and placing it into free space. This ‘active’ exhibition design broke the inherent two-dimensionality aspect of the artwork and placed in within a three dimensional space. As a result, the audience and the art were comfortably within the same environment. As a result of this design, Kiesler’s exhibition was critically acclaimed and in the last few years there has been a Kiesler-revival. I am interested in the fact that today Kiesler’s work  not only remains provocative but is also increasingly relevant. Kiesler recognized not only the role of the surrealist art in his design but he recognized another important ingredient in his design – the viewer. His training as a set designer had prepared him for this role – he created sets but more importantly he created spaces for the actors within his sets. In our discussion in class we speak so often of the curatorial narrative, of the display of information, of the experience of the exhibition, of the expectations of the audience, but in reviewing Kiesler’s exhibition, it seems that we don’t actually think about the physicality of the exhibition and the viewer. We do indeed talk about how the viewer fits into the exhibition – culturally, academically, etc – but physically fits? Sometime the most important move is the simplest move – welcoming the viewer so they can exist in the same of the exhibition… the display, path, experience, etc then become relevant.

HC Smith

Data Graphics

Hans Rosling's Data Graphics at TED Conference

Edward Tufte is fantastic. If I had a log cabin I would go and read his books for days. After purchasing a film projector last week, I have immersed myself in watching TED talks projected large scale in my home. Also fantastic. Hans Rosling’s 20 minute lecture on being able to visualize statistics is simple phenomenal. Countries are represented in circles of different sizes relating to population and are placed on an X,Y axis of health and wealth and Rosling animates the graph moving the placement of those countries on the graph as time progresses. We see countries evolving or failing. Reassigning the X,Y values, we see life expectancy rise up in most countries but literally see sub Saharan countries fall back with HIV-related deaths. Who know that watching moving circles could be an emotional experience – but it is. The bottom line is that so many types organizations have access to this data, but Rosling makes the point that this data is sitting in databases not being comprehended.
While so many major global organizations can benefit from this instigating initiatives, museums can simply play the role of projecting this information for the public.
Thanks TED.

HC Smith